Little club, big friends. Is Basaksehir takeover of the Turkish club hierarchy a political play?

January 3 – It is little surprise that eyebrows are being raised across Europe at the progress of the Istanbul club that are currently six points clear at the top of the Turkish league.

It isn’t Galatasaray or Fenerbahçe or Besiktas – the three giants of Turkish club football – but Basaksehir, another team from the capital but one with little history and only a few thousand fans.

The squad is peppered with experienced stars such as former Barcelona ace Arda Turan. The latest signing is former Manchester City forward Robinho who once broke the British transfer record when joining City from Real Madrid for £32.5 million in 2008. Then there is Emmanuel Adebayor and Gael Clichy.

Rumour has it that Arsenal’s Mesut Ozil, who has Turkish roots, could be the club’s most significant signing yet if he leaves north London in the summer though that does seem somewhat short of the mark.

How Basaksehir, little-known outside Turkey with attendances of only a few thousand,  can afford to keep signing up foreign stars has not been lost on observers. It would appear that the man behind the club’s resurgence could be none other than Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan who, it is reported, wants to create a “pro-government” club.

Whether Erdogan’s supporters are actually funding Basaksehir is unclear but it is reportedly run by a group of directors with close links to the AKP, founded by Erdogan in 2001.

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